Even after the Elon University women’s basketball team won its ninth straight game, in a 75-65 victory over Drexel University Sunday afternoon, junior guard Shay Burnett still saw a goal Elon didn’t achieve.
“They shot 40.4-percent,” Burnett said. “It’s unacceptable, but we’ll let it slide this time.”
The comment earned a laugh from head coach Charlotte Smith, who earned her 100th win as a head coach on the day, as she’s told the team to keep the opponents under 40-percent.
Smith joked back to Burnett, “They’ll have to come back tonight to run sprints.”
Spirits were rightfully high for the soaring Phoenix, as Elon continued its unbeaten run through the start of Colonial Athletic Association play with its second win over Drexel in 10 days. Elon followed up a 48-45 victory in Philadelphia Jan. 6 with an offensive outburst, scoring the second-most points Drexel has allowed this season and knocking down shots from outside.
“We shot 50-percent from three, and that makes all the difference in the world,” Smith said. “You have to be able to knock down outside shots to be effective against a zone, and we did that today. We had a combo game of inside and out, and we did a really good job of executing the offense, finding the open player, and making the extra pass.”
Elon had four players in double figures on the afternoon, led by senior guard Lauren Brown’s 19 points. Senior forward Jenifer Rhodes added 13 and senior guard Maddie McCallie was a perfect 4-of-4 — with three 3-pointers — to tally 11 off the bench, which pleased Smith.
“She’s a shooter, and in my eyes, she’s always a shooter,” Smith said. “Doesn’t matter how many shots she’s missed beforehand. You have to have the memory of a goldfish, be confident and shoot the basketball. I’m glad today that she didn’t hesitate, she was confident and put up her shot. And they fell today. Just really excited for her.”
Burnett nearly had a triple-double, scoring 10 points, grabbing nine rebounds and picking up nine assists. She joked after the game that she wished the assists were on the scoreboard in the gym, as she would’ve passed it.
The Phoenix took a 36-31 lead into halftime thanks to Drexel committing 14 fouls. Elon shot 16 free throws in the half, making 12. Elon struggled at the free-throw line in the second half, but made up for it by making 16-of-29 shots from the field, including scoring on all but two possessions in the third quarter.
“We were really making an effort to share the ball and make that extra pass, because that’s what we would do and be successful,” Brown said. “After halftime, that was one of our main focuses — sharing the ball and attacking the gaps in the zone. I feel like we were really able to do that.”
The win puts Smith at 100 for her career, all of which are at Elon, making her the fourth coach in program history to hit triple digits. After the game, the players surrounded Smith and mobbed her, sharing in the moment as the crowd of 1,054 — third-largest crowd for a women’s basketball game in Alumni Gym history — gave her and the team a standing ovation.
“It’s so exciting just to know we’ve been a part of it,” Brown said. “Obviously 100 is a milestone, but we know there’s so much more to come for Coach Smith. Being able to celebrate and be a part of that is a great feeling as a team.”
Smith added, “You don’t get to 100 wins by yourself. I have an amazing staff, a loyal staff that grinds it out to help me. You have to have players to get wins, and I’m thankful for the talent that we’ve had in this program the six years that I’ve been here.
“And I’m thankful for this senior class. When they came in their freshman year, I sat them down and told them that they’re a special class and they can be the ones to turn this program around. They’ve done just that.”
Elon improves to 13-4 overall and 5-0 in CAA play. The Phoenix will host three-time defending conference champions James Madison University at 7 p.m. Friday night.